By Russ and Tiña De Maris
You don’t have to spend much time in the RV lifestyle to know that you’ve got to “size down” in order to fit your stuff in your rig. If you’re used to spending time in a big “stix and brix” home, the much downsized area of the RV can be a bit disconcerting. Where do you put your laptop — other than on your lap — when you have some serious computing to do? Enter the laptop desk.
There are a couple of approaches to the subject. One simply puts a more solid platform under your computer, and sets the whole works down in your lap. Many give you a wide enough surface that if you like to use a mouse in conjunction with your laptop, you have room to roll the mouse around; certainly all of them help to keep you from getting “laptop burn,” particularly when your processor is working hard — say, working with digital photos. Here’s an example of one such desk that retails for less than $30, marketed by LapWorks. This particular beast also has a folding hinge trick that allows you to set your laptop on a table, and the device then gives a bit of an angle to the laptop, making for easier typing. The problem some find with this kind of laptop desk is that when you need to move, you’ve got to up and set aside the desk and the laptop. Not always convenient, but it is one approach.
A somewhat similar approach but one that gets the laptop off your lap entirely is to use a “bed table.” These handy little stands take a flat platform and add legs, usually folding ones. They’re great for breakfast in bed, and by sticking your laptop on one of these, you again have space for a mouse and get the laptop heat away. Still, the issue of what to do when you need to move and don’t want to disrupt your work in progress comes up. This particular bird is sold by Walmart.
We’ve hit on an idea that we used for quite a while. Coupling the flat and stable platform with “full to the floor legs,” we find that a product called “Table Mate” solves the problems quite nicely. Made with lightweight plastic, the Table Mate is adjustable in height and in platform angle. There aren’t any side braces, so we can slide our legs in and out from under the rig without fear of banging up knees or legs. The whole rig slides right up over our laps, bringing the computer right into reach and at precisely the right height — and adjustable so we can use it with more than one chair, even the sofa.
You can order these or similar tables from Amazon for around $30. We ordered two and found they worked out for us. In the end, however, the second Table Mate wound up being a printer stand, and set for the correct height, we could roll our plastic file cabinet right underneath the stand, saving even more floor space.
Other RVers have found solutions to the laptop issue as well. One parks the laptop on their lap directly, but has a small roll-around cart handy to plop the unit on when a break is needed. The family also designed a platform that mounts on their motorhome steering wheel — great for use in camp. Others report they’ve given up using the dining room table for dining and simply turned it into a mobile “office.”
photos: lapworks stand — lapworks. Bed table — Walmart. Table Mate — R & T De Maris